“You fold it in half, and then you fold it and make like a tiny little square,” Ben Looper said.
The 10-year-old sat at a table alongside his mother, Donna, transforming sheets of white paper into miniature origami butterflies.
Over the past year, the pair has folded 248 of these butterflies.
“My mom wanted to … make something that showed people how … COVID affected … people’s lives and stuff,” Ben said.
More specifically, Donna Looper said, each of the butterflies represents somebody who died from COVID-19 in Georgetown.
“I’m sure since we stopped folding them in May there have been more, but that was when the county stopped counting by city,” she said. “So we stopped at 248.”
Included in that figure are Ben’s grandfather and uncle. Larry Brisky got COVID in 2020, just four months after moving into a nursing home; he died shortly after. Ben’s uncle Jimmy Godsey died in January after getting COVID last Christmas.
Ben and his mother turned to the art form to process this loss, as well as to help their neighbors better understand the toll the virus was taking on the community.
The task, it turns out, came naturally to Looper.
Years ago, she worked as a child life specialist at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin and Baylor Scott and White in Temple. She was responsible for helping children and families cope with the challenges of hospitalization and illness.