Of all scenarios one can imagine personally living through, waking up dead -- or presumed so -- must surely be one of the most memorable and life-changing.
Such was the case for the now-late Walter Williams of Lexington, Mississippi.
Mr. Williams woke up on a night in late February to find his world had gone very dark indeed.
As in, he awakened zipped into a heavy-duty black body bag. Lying on a gurney. In a funeral home. About to be embalmed.
Naturally, Mr. Williams was not inclined to go without a fuss. To what was no doubt the frozen amazement of the mortician on duty, he began kicking his way out of the body bag.
The bewildered man was released from his temporary shroud and whisked to the hospital, where he was stabilized and reunited with his no-longer-grieving family.
Plans for his funeral were halted. The undertaker was told to stand down. The grave-diggers were alerted and advised to put their shovels away.
Mr. Williams had done what not many have managed and lived to tell about: He had cheated the Grim Reaper.
His story, while unusual, is not without precedent.
Last August, 37-year-old Ohioan Tony Yahle was "dead" for 45 minutes. As in, for that space of time he had no heartbeat.
And then he did.
Mr. Yahle's son, who witnessed his father's re-animation, described the feeling:
I went from hopeless to hope in an instant.
As would anyone in a situation so unthinkably dire.
Doctors were stumped. Speechless.
The once-deceased Mr. Yahle himself simply said:
A miracle happened.
Jeff Markin, of Palm Beach, Florida, found himself in bad shape on a beautiful day in 2006. Feeling unwell, he drove himself to the hospital and even walked inside.
Where he collapsed, then died.
Turn around and pray for that man.
Dr. Crandall obeyed. An attending nurse was appalled.
But before anyone could call time out, the deceased was shocked back to life with a pair of defibrillator paddles wielded by a member of the medical team.
According to this heart-warming story, Mr. Markin died. And lived to tell about it.
As for Mr. Williams, his reprieve from the grave was as brief as it was rapturous. He passed away two weeks after his body-bag scare.
His nephew, Eddie Hester, opined:
I think he's gone this time.
May he rest in peace.
Remember: Life is precious, because while there's life there's hope.
And miracles do happen, still. May you be the recipient of a miracle today.
Jennifer Weber is the owner of Angel Funeral Photography and Jennifer Weber Photography. When she's not preoccupied with casual portraiture, funeral photography, or taking pictures in cemeteries just for fun, she blogs at I'm Having A Thought Here. She is active on Find A Grave, where she is known as AngelSeeker. She is also a contributor to American Cemetery, an independent trade magazine for cemeterians. American Cemetery is a product of Kates-Boylston Publications.