ANKENY, IA—In a turn of events local grief counselor Maggie Hedrick described Tuesday as "typical" and "[her] life in a nutshell," the 32-year-old’s first date since entering her 30s ended abruptly Sunday when the lifeless body of Washburn High School sophomore David Schiller was found in nearby Big Creek Lake.
Schiller, who could literally have chosen any other day in the last two years to achieve a reported blood-alcohol level of .22, fall out of his canoe, and ingest three gallons of water, opted to drown on the one evening Hedrick had plans to meet and have dinner with an actual single male.
"Why is it no one ever jumps off a building or dies in a car crash when I’m stuck playing solitaire at home?" Hedrick said. "I pulled weeds from my garden all day Saturday. Where were all the drownings of teenaged boys with their whole lives still ahead of them then?"
While Hedrick acknowledged that no one is ever prepared for a tragic loss of the magnitude of Schiller’s death, she said she should have nonetheless seen it coming, given her personal luck. "Helping family members through the grieving process is never easy," Hedrick said. "But it’s especially heartbreaking when you have to ditch a handsome guy who also happens to like early-20th-century architecture."
Emergency rescue teams, working with what Hedrick called "speed and efficiency on a level I’d never before seen from them, of course," recovered Schiller’s body less than 40 minutes after Hedrick and substitute teacher Jeff Lindenbaum, 30, met for dinner at a local seafood restaurant. Approximately 15 minutes later, Hedrick received a call from Ankeny police summoning her to the scene of the accident, as if her immediate presence would somehow bring Schiller’s bloated, waterlogged corpse back to life.
A report issued Monday by the Polk County Coroner’s Office put Schiller’s time of death somewhere between the moment Lindenbaum arrived at Hedrick’s residence with a bouquet of fresh flowers at 6:34 p.m. and the very instant both realized that the other also had wishes to someday raise a family at 6:58 p.m.
"I don’t want to sound insensitive, but David’s parents will have the rest of their lives to mourn the death of their only son," said Hedrick, who claimed to have a "pretty good idea" how Howard and Janet Schiller felt when they heard the news. "Initial denial of a tragedy is a natural and understandable human impulse. What’s another two or three hours, in the grand scheme of things?"
"Don’t get me wrong, it would’ve been a whole different situation had the date been going badly. In fact, I would have probably welcomed Schiller’s death if that had been the case," Hedrick added. "But Jeff and I were really hitting it off."
Although Lindenbaum left a message on Hedrick’s voice mail late Sunday night, he has not called again since, leading Hedrick to fear that a rare opportunity for a serious relationship may have been "totally blown."
"David’s death has affected not only those who knew him, but also those who had never even met him," Hedrick said. "Not even once."
"I don’t know exactly how Howard and Janet are handling this, as I’ve been too busy wondering if Jeff will ever call me again to actually pay attention, but I imagine they must feel responsible on some level," continued Hedrick. "While it’s just a hypothesis, there’s a possibility that if both parents had paid more attention to their son, I would be getting laid right now."
"What a tragic waste of a night," she added.