Stacey Chillemi: What inspired you to write your book?
Martha Brookhart Halda: I made a barter/deal/promise with God that if I got to return to mother my sons that I would tell of his love and the beauty of Heaven. At first I spoke with youth groups, and women’s groups, but I knew I needed to have a larger forum, and hence this book. It happened in an instant: a car crash, thrown from the vehicle, pronounced clinically dead while lying on the road, rotors turned off the Life Flight helicopter — and then swept into eternity… only to return, after being pronounced dead three times, to a far different life. I set forth to find my new purpose in life after it became more fraught with challenge following my time in Heaven.
Stacey Chillemi: How did you come up with the title?
Martha Brookhart Halda: The original title was “A Taste of Eternity”. It was changed because the original title wouldn’t translate well into German, where the book made its world and foreign language debut at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. We (my publisher, editor, and I) discussed my view of Heaven and knew it had to be this title, because the fragrance there is so overwhelmingly wonderful.
Stacey Chillemi: Who should read it?
Martha Brookhart Halda: Anyone interested in what happens after we pass. It’s also an inspirational story of my quest to regain my life and move forward with a renewed purpose. It’s a women’s empowerment story, through strength that can be found with in one’s self, for anyone needing a little belief that what they face can be overcome or at least accepted peacefully.
Stacey Chillemi: What is it about?
Martha Brookhart Halda: My Near Death Experience, and how I feel that the term “near death” is an oxymoron. To me you are not near death, but rather much closer to the very real eternal life. When our body dies here on earth, we humans often think it is final—no more—kaput—but in fact it is just the beginning. The beginning of knowing what real love is, what real life is as our souls experience it on the cellular level. The NDE, rather my taste of Eternity, details how I got a taste of the beauty to come. Because of that, I can’t wait until the day that I will be able to reunite with this energy and beauty.
Stacey Chillemi: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Martha Brookhart Halda: Yes, Heaven is Amazing; there is nothing to fear in death. Also that through Belief we can change our circumstance. Either belief in God, or belief in self, this powerful energy will help bring our goals to fruition. For instance, after I survived the accident, I was told I would live in a wheelchair. I believed I would walk again, so set forth a plan. With my belief and prayer, I was able to walk again, and three years to the month after my accident, I competed in and finished the Dublin Marathon. I jokingly say I went from zero to 26.2 in three years flat. LOL
Stacey Chillemi: What are you hoping readers will learn from your book?
Martha Brookhart Halda: I’d shout it from every mountaintop if need be; we are to share love with all of God’s people and creatures! I was shown love is the most important thing to give. To Give, Share, and Express Love, it’s the most important thing we have to offer. Love is the only Eternal possession. When we die, the only thing we take with us is the love we’ve shared, memories, and our integrity. Everything else stays here.
Stacey Chillemi: What do you think is the most important information readers will gain from reading your book?
Martha Brookhart Halda: The essence of spirit is agape (unconditional), divine love, not an ordinary love. All things are intertwined and living in unity. There are no accidents in life, but only providential events. It is up to us to choose which way we direct our life according to events. Simply to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Stacey Chillemi: Has your near-death experience helped take away your fear of death?
Martha Brookhart Halda: I have absolutely no fear of death. If I knew for sure that I would end up back where I was after being pronounced dead in 1999, I’d find a way to get there now. However, in my spiritual path, I haven’t been assured that I would end up in Heaven, that is if I bring on my own death, and that is not a risk I am willing to take. I do however like to say, “Bring it on” with a complete smile. Everything I experienced in Heaven makes this earthly plane seem like mud in comparison. That said, I have found that I’m able to live life more fully today, living in the moment. I have a profound appreciation for all living things. I don’t fear death, but actually rather look forward to it.
Stacey Chillemi: Did you look at life differently after you almost lost (your life in) your near-death experience?
Martha Brookhart Halda: My life since, I’ve noticed that every step, every experience, every encounter, and basically everything happens in order to prepare us for the next step to come. I try to take better notice of things when they are occurring, knowing there is a lesson. I also know that any day could be my last. When it’s my time, then it’s my time. I’d have to say I’m more childlike than before. I like to find the joy in every day. Even if I’m having a bad day, there is always something positive to be found.
Stacey Chillemi: If you could tell us one important lesson in life that you learned from this life changing experience, what would it be?
Martha Brookhart Halda: My Angel, the feeling of being held by God, and my life’s review. This is difficult for me to explain. I felt divinely guided, and during the review I was most impacted by the importance of learning, the knowledge, and my life’s lessons. My entire forty years was shown to me via imagery, which included all the human senses. I felt all the feelings I caused another person to have, all at the speed of light. I had to feel how I had hurt someone, but thankfully also how they felt when I shared love with them. That was amazing! But, I learned to ask for forgiveness now, either directly from the person, or if I don’t have the guts to ask them directly, then via prayer. I don’t ever want to feel how I may have hurt someone. It is excruciating.
Stacey Chillemi: I believe everything happens for a reason. What do you believe is the ultimate meaning behind near death experiences if you could tell us in one or two sentences?
Martha Brookhart Halda: Think of the trickle down effect as a waterfall: each drop cascades into a pond of shimmering water that provides a fuller life. I also see my life in the same way; each step or action prepares me for the next step. I feel that NDE’s are God’s way of sharing an insight, provided those that have experienced one are willing to share it. Sharing my story has not always been the easiest, unfortunately some people judge harshly. I learned that we are not the judge; the ultimate judge is God, in whatever shape or form we give him.
Stacey Chillemi: You write that the concept of time doesn’t exist in heaven. Could you elaborate on how you moved from one place to another, one realm to another, without the feeling of time?
Martha Brookhart Halda: Time had no relevance. My angel and I traveled from one place to another drifting, floating, like watching a butterfly or hummingbird. We just sort of up and went, gliding to the next place of my review, divinely guided.
Stacey Chillemi: Why do so many people find it hard to believe someone can have a near death experience, a taste of eternity, or have direct perception of God?
Martha Brookhart Halda: I feel it’s because we are too busy judging. Judgment causes the unbearable fear of non-acceptance. From our first day on the playground, we want to be accepted, part of the group, invited in. Some people can’t accept what they haven’t seen, touched or felt themselves. Some need science to prove anything or everything before they will accept it. Often, people are afraid that society will think them odd or mentally off. To talk about this, I needed the faith that comes from knowing that what I experienced was 100% real. Many people still need society to accept it, before they are willing.
Stacey Chillemi: Where can readers find an excerpt of Fragrance of Angels?
Martha Brookhart Halda: There is a printed excerpt in The Hummingbird Review winter/spring 2015-2016 edition. www.hummingbirdreview.com
Stacey Chillemi: What are your current projects?
Martha Brookhart Halda: I have been considering a follow-up book on the specific time frame, challenges, and growth that statistically people who have had an NDE seem to follow.
Stacey Chillemi: Where can people buy your book?
Martha Brookhart Halda: The Fragrance of Angels is available through bookstores, all major online booksellers (including Amazon.com and BN.com), and through my publisher, www.openbookspress.com.
About Martha Brookhart Halda
My life can be summed up in four words: faith, family, adventure, and perseverance. My life was built around family, until life crashed to a halt on October 8, 1999. I suffered the car crash that provides the basis for The Fragrance of Angels. A taste of eternity is the story of my near death experience during this near-fatal car accident, and my quest to regain a normal life. Being a former college track and volleyball athlete provided me the drive and skills to regain my strength and survive. Writing this book provides me the outlet to fulfill a promise; to my late father, Ray F. Brookhart, and more importantly to God that I would tell my story and of His love.
Today, I live Oceanside Ca. and work in the Vacation Ownership Industry in Oceanside, California. I encourage people to enjoy the marvels of this world, and to create precious memories with the people that mean the most in their life, because I know all we get to take with us is our integrity and our memories.