Tribute to a beloved colleague and friend
by Helen Chang
The first time I met Katherine MacKenett (at that time known
as Kristine Serio), she expressed such a profound insight about writing, I
wrote it down on her resume.
She said she resonated with our company purpose to “bring
forth stories that transform life on the planet.” Little did I know that her
life would deeply transform mine.
That first meeting kicked off our relationship for years to come as colleagues, co-conspirators and friends.
Katherine brought a sense of magic, wonder and adventure to
everything we did together. We turned our company into a kingdom where writers
resided in various parts of the castle and kingdom. Laurie, our steadfast
operations manager became the Fairy God Mother, while I was dubbed, Queen
Helen. We gave Katherine various Princess titles such as Princess Warrior-in-the-matter-of-the-It-Will-Never-Be-Done
character-flaw. But mostly we called her Princess Scribey.
Katherine relished working with our author clients and
discovering the thread of each story, which became a book. Many clients told me
about how they felt delighted, excited and taken care of in their books with
At the end of each year, our company holds a holiday dinner.
We invite all our team members and their loved ones. At the end of the meal, we
have a tradition of going around and acknowledging each team member for their
contributions and qualities shared during that year. And then we do the same
for our loved ones, because they, too, support the team member’s success with
The first year we did this, my partner Robert felt so
awkward. He moved in his seat and had difficulty saying anything. Katherine
leaned forward, her eyes bright and her smile kind. She suggested that
he hold his hands at his heart and say “I receive with joy and gratitude.” He
was embarrassed taking her suggestion at first. But then, after he said
the words, he beamed like a child.
It’s a gesture that we continued in the company.
When we were deciding to do our first 3-day live event, we
went as a team to the location scoped out the room and then sat down for a meal
in a restaurant. I shared with them the plans for the event and what it would
take. But I wasn’t sure if we really wanted to do it I had not spoken in front
of a large group of people before. “We can still cancel it right now,” I said.
“Hold on,” Katherine said sitting up, “We’ve always done
things we are afraid to do in this company……..” I laughed. With that, we
launched our first Book Bootcamp.
Katherine stepped down as Managing Editor in January 2018.
She continued to serve as an Editorial Director for us and to do special
projects, including our online course. She once confided in me that part of the
reason she didn’t want to work full time is because she needed to take long
breaks to take care of her health. It was something that had dogged her all the
years we worked together.
In early 2019, I invited her to participate with us in a
bigger way and she wrote back that she would love nothing more but to do that.
But she had a health issue she had to manage and she wasn’t sure yet which side
of the veil she was going to choose. She asked me to keep it between us. (On a
separate communication track, our Fairy God Mother Laurie kept in touch by text
during this time.)
I had the blessing of seeing Katherine again in March. When
we parted, she took my hands in hers and I said, “I love you.” And “I love you,”
Katherine saw her transition as a gateway to her next
In a message to me, this is how she expressed it: “I
continue to view it as a precious opportunity to use all that I am and all that
I’ve learned to save my own life and expand into my next level of consciousness,
in-or-out of body.”
“…as you know, energy is always changing. If I do end up
choosing to go ‘home’ in the end, please know that I made that decision because
it was the right one to make, and that I feel my life has been so rich and
packed with growth, love, and joy that I don’t have a single thing to regret.”
A week after Katherine passed, I had a dream I was in front
of an auditorium, leading a large group of people. Then I saw Katherine coming
up an aisle, more radiant, enthusiastic and lighter than ever before. She was
dressed in a flowing white dress, her hair billowing behind her. We immediately
held hands. Then I lay my head on her chest, and I said, “I love you.” And she
said, “I love you.” Then she was off.
Katherine made her final transition on April 10th,
two days after her thirty-fifth birthday. Outside the window, a glorious sunset
celebrated her journey.
Even today, I close many of my emails with Katherine’s phrase,
“With joy and gratitude.” And every time I do that, I think of her, and I
imagine that she is sharing her enthusiasm and splendor with everyone our
company touches. With joy and gratitude to you, Katherine.
P.S. I kept a promise of confidentiality while she was here.
But now that she's in the great beyond, I believe that she would not mind me
sharing this as a way to inspire others.
P.P.S. I asked Katherine’s closest friend and cousin, Sabrina,
if our community could do anything in memory of Katherine. She suggested giving
to the 826LA organization, which works with youth in expressing themselves
If you are so moved please give to 826LA organization.
Even when you're not ready...
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