For the people who loved her, there is only one way to remember Traci Raymond Miscavish.
Her family and friends gathered at the tiny park by the Chester Hill Borough Building recently, talking about the woman they loved while they visited a tree planted there in her name.
They lost Miscavish a year ago in a domestic violence shooting. Her estranged husband, a retired state trooper, brought a gun to the Decatur Township, Clearfield County, grocery store where she worked and killed Traci Miscavish and then himself.
But her family doesn’t want to dwell on the way she was taken from them; they want to focus on the bright light that she brought into their lives.
Posing for a picture, they jockey for position, making bunny ears with their fingers behind each other’s heads. It’s a silly gesture, but it’s meaningful to them. It’s something Miscavish did almost anytime someone pulled out a camera.
“When I think of Traci, so many wonderful memories rush to my mind,” said Sherri Farmery, her best friend and co-worker, who was with Miscavish when she took her last breath. “Traci was always doing for others and never put herself first.”
For her family, they keep her close by continuing that legacy of service.
Relay for Life always has been a priority, with Miscavish and sister Tammy Schnarrs chairing the Moshannon Valley edition of the event repeatedly during the years.
A floral designer with a passion for beautiful, fun things, Miscavish made a huge purple balloon arch for the survivors’ lap. Purple is the Relay signature color, but anyone who has seen the “Keep Calm and Flower On” shirts sported at her candlelight vigil last year knows that it also was her favorite color.
Miscavish was active with Make-a-Wish, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Arthritis Foundation and other organizations. She supported local causes, organizing a balloon release and a T-shirt and hot dog sale to benefit Philipsburg’s Emily Whitehead when the little girl was fighting cancer.
“Traci always made sure everything she did was a huge success,” Farmery said.
In smaller ways, she reached out to people in personal ways. A certified nursing assistant, her sisters said she thrived on helping people in ways big and small.
“Everything she did, it was caring,” said her mother, Joann Raymond.
Well, not quite everything.
Her giggly side and sharp sense of humor made her a wicked practical joker. She once totally sealed up her brother’s brand new truck in rolls and rolls of plastic wrap and could barely contain herself long enough for him to figure it out.
“Oh, I knew exactly who did it,” Glenn Raymond said with a wry smile.
They smile when they think about her, and then they remember that she is gone, and then you can see them force themselves to laugh again, because it is what she would want.
“She had a zest for life, and she just loved to laugh and play jokes,” said Schnarrs. “We’ve got to keep the laughter going.”
Because as long as they laugh, she’s not really gone.
“Many often said Traci was an angel, which I agree she really was, but some of us said she had a broken halo,” Farmery said. “I am a better person because of Traci.”
The tree is just one more way for them to remember her.
Today, it is small and thin, more stick than tree. But they know it will blossom into the perfect memorial, a flowering pear tree that honors both her strong roots and her love of petals.
Follow Lori Falce on Twitter @LoriFalce.