Yes, I’m back. I didn’t really go away, but let’s just say that the intermission was longer than anticipated.

One of my favorite characters lately is Thursday Next, from the Next Octology series by Jasper Fforde. (Several reviewers call the series “Harry Potter for grownups.” Possibly this means I’m not really a grownup, since I love Harry Potter. But I digress.) For various and sundry extremely good reasons, Thursday spends a couple years hiding away from the real world in Bookworld. When she returns, most of her acquaintances and friends ask, “Have you been in prison?”

I mention this because I share the same name as a woman who lives maybe 10 miles from me. Just before I moved from the DC area to Tennessee, this other Jennifer Alvey was accused of killing her 20-month old daughter in 2005. She admitted that she had shaken her adopted daughter and caused the girl’s head to hit a coffee table and fracture. The other Jennifer Alvey pled guilty to reckless homicide in June 2008, and is awaiting sentencing.

At the time, I didn’t think too much about the consequences that sad episode might cause for me. Yes, she and I not only had the same unusual name, we also were fairly close in age–I’m in my early 40s and she is in her late 30s. And in 2005, my son was a toddler. But if you read the stories (silly assumption #1) you would see that she had lived in Tennessee for quite a while; I moved here in 2006. Also, the other Jennifer had married into the Alvey name, while I was born with it. Though she probably is a distant relative; the Alveys in western Kentucky immigrated en masse from eastern Maryland around 200 years ago, and the branch that didn’t move on to Chicago or Texas has stayed centered around western Kentucky. (More geneaology than you needed to know!)

But a client-someone I knew from several years ago, but had lost touch with-while looking to get back in touch with me stumbled across the stories, and for a while thought maybe I had gone rather bad.

That story of mistaken identity ended happily enough, since he persevered through some mutual acquaintances. Though I do wonder if some resumes I’ve sent out have been deleted on the assumption I’m a convict, rather than a contrarian.

Just in case, though, let me tell you that my son is just fine, but if he doesn’t stop pestering our very tolerant kitten hourly, he might have to go to his room for another time out.

I’m sure the other Jennifer Alvey wishes she could say the same for her daughter. When I read about those situations, I’m always reminded of a saying, “You’re not a bad parent if you occasionally think about killing your children, only if you act on that thought.” May we all be given the grace to think before we act.