May 2020 10


Someone I know died.

Well, to say I ‘knew’ her isn’t quite accurate. But she was someone I’d see a couple of times a week for some years.

Pina was a Personal Trainer at the gym that I went to regularly.

I remember meeting her. I noticed her right away. She was hard to miss. About six feet tall, long dark flowing hair and dark brown eyes. Stunning.

“Would you like a towel, hon?”

‘She could be a model’, I thought to myself. And it turns out she was, but I didn’t find that out til much later.

I would come into the gym and if she was working the front desk, we’d chat a bit. She loved to laugh, and I like to try to make people laugh. So I’d consider it a personal accomplishment if I managed it with her.

Those moments were less about my prowess as an awkward comedian, and more about her spirit. I think she liked to make people feel good and even when my jokes missed their mark, she’d give me a playful laugh and giggle that made me feel as tall as her. I didn’t even need the physical workout after. She made me feel great.

One day I arrived in a new baseball cap and she said “I love that hat. Give it to me.” And I admit I almost did at that moment.

Pina was Transgender. I found this out early on in our non-relationship. I thought about hiring a Personal Trainer and looked at her bio on the gym wall. Model and Transgender activist.

Over the next months and years, this is the way it went with us. We’d joke about when I was giving her a hat. And I’d get all fluttery inside from her attention. She had a way of looking at me like I was a little snack, and I ate it up. She was sexual, feminine, flirty, and more importantly just an all-around nice person, and I looked forward to her energy.

I saw her with clients and she was always very focused on them, encouraging, and had a warm and giving spirit.

We’d wink and wave at each other as she walked by with a client. Sometimes she’d point at whatever hat I had on my head and give me an approving look. I admit I’d flex a bit more or do an extra rep just for show. She glided effortlessly through the gym, like a dancer.

“It’s amazing how attractive she is,” I said to a friend about her as we were admiring her professional modelling photos online. “She’s better looking at being feminine or masculine than anyone I know who’s cis or straight and doing either one.”

I hadn’t seen her in awhile. Some months before the lockdown, a lot of the Personal Trainers at the gym left for some reason. A big turnover. Pina was one of them. I’d read about a Canada-wide labour dispute with the big parent company and I wondered if she was part of the walkout, or maybe she’d moved onto other things.

I missed seeing her though. I had new hats.

This week, a friend on Facebook boosted a post. It was a photo of Pina, smiling. I scrolled by at first and then remembered that no one I know knew her. We weren’t real-life friends. What was up? I went back to read. Turns out she was missing.

I boosted the post and then checked a few days later for an update.

Pina had been found dead in her apartment. No details on cause of death.

Right now, we just assume anyone who dies or is hospitalized is COVID-19 related. And perhaps that’s what happened to Pina. I don’t know. I may never know. We all have our battles we are fighting. Pina was fighting hers, and from the posts I’ve been reading about her life outside the gym, she was fighting for others as well.

She was quite the activist in the Transgender community. A pillar of strength and support for people. I’m sorry for all those who knew her better than I did. She certainly was loved.

I always hoped I’d see her again. Maybe after the lockdown when the gyms reopened, she’d magically reappear at that location and we’d laugh again and flirt and have a longer conversation about what she had been doing. I’d order her one of my favourite hats to really welcome her back.

But nope.

“We’re all in this together.” I’m so tired of hearing this. A pandemic slogan doesn’t make this more true. We’re only all in this together if we support each other. It’s so hard right now, isn’t it? But who knows how you can make a difference in someone’s day with a small gesture. It’s said that you get back what you put out there. But even if you don’t, someone gets something you put out there.

I hope Pina knew she had the love and support that I saw her giving out into the world.

I certainly could have done a better job. She always made my day better. I wish I’d told her.