Hugs and kisses.
For me that's what 88's always stood for. It goes back to something I learned from a girlfriend whose uncle was a ham radio operator. The shorthand used by those radio operators (early version of texting?) employed various compressed abbreviations or numbers as quick substitutions for commonly used phrases. After all, for the most part, they were sending their messages in Morse Code.
For my girlfriend and me, numbers were fun to use in coded messages, and 88 was one of my favourites. Hugs and kisses were a great way to close a note.
Only now that number's meaning has changed, as yet another Canadian soldier -- James Hayward Arnal -- has died in Afghanistan. His death takes the number of number of dead Canadian soldiers up to 88. And no, I cannot refer to Cpl. Arnal as a 'casualty' -- there is nothing casual about death.