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April 28, 2008
So what's the name? I ask. We have just found out that our new grandbaby is, on fact, a grandson, so the naming project is considerably less theoretical than it was.

I think we'll wait and let him tell us, his mommy says. Good plan; babies do let you know who they are, no matter who you think you're expecting.

And baby names do have seasons, of course. My mother's friends were named Hazel, Ernestine, Clara, Dorothy, Pearl, Betty. The men were Charlie, Jack, Harry, Jim. My generation had lots of Susans and Cathys and Debbies; the boys were Michael and Bill, Gary, Tom, Rick, Danny.

I see this generation's baby names as I pray through the week's fatalities among American service personnel, the popular baby names of 1986, 1990. Kyle and Jason, Matthew, Luke, Joshua, Ryan -- "Oh, I love that name!" a young mother exulted once, and "Ryan" it was. And now, nineteen years after that happy day, someone hands her a folded flag. Marine First Sergeant Luke J. Marcadante, Army Staff Sergeant Jason L. Brown, Marine Corporal Kyle W. Wilks. Happy baby days, strong legs and arms growing, wide smiles, big hugs, a world of hope for a life that will endure after your life is over. Jason, who had a lot of friends named Jason. Kyle who knew lots of other guys named Kyle. She holds the flag against her chest; it is about the size and shape he was once. She wonders if she will survive this. Half of her doesn't care if she does or not.

Pray for the mothers and fathers who named them once and mourn them now. Pray with the mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and children who pray nightly for the safe return of the living. Pray for Ryan and Joshua and Michael and Matthew and Stephen, for Jessica, Ashley and Lauren. Treasure the fact that you have lived long enough to complain about your arthritis, to welcome your grandchild and wonder what his name will be.
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