Get access to our homeschool planner and more! Sign Up

The Homeschool We Never Thought We’d Have

TheHomeSchoolMom: The homeschool we never thought we'd have

Dominic James Capuano

Looking for a curriculum your kids will like?
An online homeschool curriculum can open new doors by creating an interactive learning experience that brings concepts to life.
Text Time4Learning and rotating graphics for math, science, social studies, and language arts
Homeschooling should be fun.
With Time4Learning, it can be!

I had the best of plans.

We’d spent the whole summer preparing for the baby. Watching birth videos, reading books, seeing my belly grow… waiting in expectation for so long just makes the gift so much more special. We’d gone over the changing of diapers, and feeding schedules, and even how to work the baby swing. The plans were made for how the new little guy would work in to our homeschooling life. I’d even prepared the girls for what would happen during the labor and delivery, because, in true homeschooling style, their baby brother was going to be born at home. And they were right there, in the midst of it all, as our long-awaited little man came into the world, in a surprise breech birth, on July 31, 2012. Dominic James Capuano: 7 lbs. 0 oz., with a huge head of dark spiky hair, and the most beautiful, perfect lips and his Daddy’s button nose. The only male in a family full of girls. The one to pass on the family name. It was all crying and smiling and praising and enjoying the miracle of new life.

And then, concern.

“What’s wrong with his legs and arms?” “His breathing doesn’t sound so good”.

“It must just be a result of his fast breech birth”.

A trip to the Emergency Room turned into a stay in the private room in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, and a retrospective education in the fact that you don’t ever want to be given the private room in the NICU. Not long after came the devastating, fatal diagnosis, the words that changed our lives forever: Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA. Exuberant joy turned to excruciating sorrow with a single declaration. We didn’t know how long we had, but we knew it wouldn’t be long.

This wasn’t in the plan. This wasn’t how our homeschool was supposed to go.


Dominic with his mother

“How long” turned out to be almost 4 days. 4 precious, heart-wrenching, beautiful, all-too-brief days of learning and loving, of saying hello and bidding goodbye. We held him and kissed him and sang to him. We joked about his Daddy’s “superior Italian genes” coming through again because he looked a lot like his sisters, and we marveled at where he got all of that hair. We took tons of photos and comforted him and told him how much we loved him. The girls each got time with him, holding him, talking to him, and just getting to know their little brother. And we wept. It was wonderful and terrible, both, as we welcomed our new baby boy and said goodbye to him all at the same time. As we got to know him and prepared for not ever seeing him again simultaneously. As we both thanked God for him and got ready to send him back to God.

When medicine had done all it could do, we prepared for bringing him home. First home with us, and then, very shortly, home to his Heavenly Father. We enjoyed 5 sweet hours at home with him on August 3, during which time he was never out of someone’s arms. When his last moments came, we surrounded him as a family as his Daddy held him, and we sang to him: the lullaby my husband had made up and sung to all of our children, Jesus Loves Me, He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands, Amazing Grace, and It Is Well With My Soul. We prayed over him and told him that it was ok for him to go home to Jesus. And, in the last moment, it was his sister, the youngest, who gave him his final farewell. She told him goodnight, and kissed him on his head. And he took his last breath. With that last breath he fulfilled the meaning of his name, Dominic: “belonging to God”.

I had the best of plans. Had our homeschool under control. Had life pretty much under control. Or so I thought.

In an instant, I became the student; a student in the course of grief. A pupil in the school of mortality and eternity and heaven. An apprentice in a subject I’d never wanted to delve into deeply or, for sure, personally. Yep, this is one learning experience best enjoyed from the outside of the classroom. Like, via long-distance learning. But now that we’re in it, we’ve begun to see the benefits of this excruciatingly difficult curriculum. What used to be “Mom and Dad the teachers” and “children the students” has become a shared educational experience as we learn day by day how to navigate through the new information, emotions, and realities of living as a family that has lost a baby. It’s not an education that I would have ever chosen for us to obtain. But we are learning together in this new homeschool. And, like most education, we are being changed for the better because of it.

This new enlightenment has helped us to clarify what really matters, and it has re-prioritized things of faith over things of this life. The stress over completing a Math book, or making sure each sentence gets correctly punctuated has been replaced by an emphasis on snuggling together a little longer in bed, and really appreciating the red and orange colors she used in that picture. Hustling back and forth to sports practice and music lessons has taken a backseat to watching the leaves change color as we walk together down the street, and making homemade zucchini bread to take to the neighbors. Admonitions of “Pay attention!” and “Stay on task!” have been nudged to the side by patient answers to questions like “Why did Dominic have to die?” and “Why can’t we fly on a plane to heaven to go see him?” Love has become deeper, sadness more profound, joy more meaningful. It has put into perspective the petty annoyances or frustrations of everyday homeschooling life, and has given us a new depth of appreciation for the time homeschooling affords us with our children. And it has brought us to love each other, and to love our God, more than we ever knew we could before. We didn’t have the time we would have liked with our little man. But the Lord has given us time, right now, with our other children. We want to drink in every moment of that time, and be the best possible stewards of it, because we now truly, fully understand just how precious every moment is.

Ironically, there is a bizarrely wonderful freedom that accompanies the discovery that I am not in control of everything. It’s like a disease – the need to manage and be in charge of “my” homeschool and “my” educational plans and even “my” children – a disease that sucks the marrow out of life and leaves stressed, impatient, overscheduled parents gasping for air in their attempts to just make it to the next step. Suddenly, in this new homeschool, my grasp was released. And when it did, my illusion of control became replaced by the reality that the big picture is much greater than I. When we release our stranglehold on life, and give up the illusion that it is ours to control, we can find freedom and joy that only comes from awareness that we are simply stewards, for a time, of the lives entrusted to us as a gift. In this new homeschool, we’re a lot more focused on enjoying the gift.

I had the best laid plans. But sometimes the best education doesn’t come from our own plans. Sometimes the best homeschooling – the learning from home that really matters – comes from the times that life takes plans out of our hands and into the hands of God, to bring us to a place our own efforts at education could never reach. It is never easy to learn something new. But the reward, when it is mastered, can be beyond anything we could have imagined. Especially in this new homeschool. I really, really look forward to graduation.

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.

Read Next Post
Read Previous Post

TheHomeSchoolMom may be compensated for any of the links in this post through sponsorships, paid ads, free or discounted products, or affiliate links. Local resource listings are for information purposes only and do not imply endorsement. Always use due diligence when choosing resources, and please verify location and time with the organizer if applicable. Suggestions and advice on are for general information purposes only and should never be considered as specific to any individual situation, nor are they a diagnosis or treatment advice for any kind of medical, developmental, or psychological condition. Blog posts represent the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors or the publisher. Full terms of use and disclosure


  1. I see that you are approaching the one year anniversary of the birth of your sweet Dominic. I pray that you will experience an incredible peace that day even as you grieve over a significant anniversary. Your story here was so beautiful and so moving. Thank you for sharing it, and the lessons that Dominic taught you in such a short span of time.

    • Thank you so much, Kristen. It has been a hard year, but one in which we have seen so many blessings. I have written about our journey this past year with Dominic on my blog,, if you have an interest in reading what The Lord has done in this past year through his life and death. Again, thank you for thinking of us.

  2. Rachel

    Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful, terrible lesson. I can’t wait for graduation, too.

  3. Cindy Hoffmann Smith

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your sweet story of Dominic’s brief but cherished life was a good reminder to me of how important it is to stop and smell the roses and to really focus on the little things that make life so precious. Sending up prayers for all of you. God bless you.

  4. Chris

    After reading your beautiful story about sweet Dominic, I realized his short time with you was a precious gift to all of us. Through your story, he made us all stop and realize the importance of life. The joy, the heartache, the everyday events that seemingly go unnoticed are now so much more to all of us. The moments I watch my son kicking a ball or climbing a tree will be seen through different eyes for awhile. I thank you and your family for sharing Dominic’s story.

  5. Christine

    I am so, so sorry for your loss.
    Thank ypu for sharing your story with us. You and your family will be in our prayers.

  6. Tamarah Goggans

    I am sorry for your loss. I am thankful for your testimony. I praise God you are homeschooling. Your children have your time and the time they need to process this happening in your lives in a healthy way under your watchful eye. We had a similar incident in our family. I am praying that you will all be strengthened through this time of mourning, drawn into rest through trust in the Father, drawn closer together as you allow each other to mourn and learn to embrace life and death and all He allows in your lives.

  7. Ina Murphey

    What a beautiful expression of love and tribute your precious Dominic. Your words powerfully expressed the wonder, the joy and the heart ache of loving and losing a child. He looks so filled with wonder in the top photo as he is gazing up at you and so peaceful in the second photo. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to feel such great joy and deep sorrow at the same time.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You and your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Beautiful, Rebecca. Oh how many times have I barked, “Stay on task!” to my boys just in the past week. Thank you for teaching us through your own deep, learning journey.

  9. Wendy James

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful article about Dominic’s life. I home school my two boys and frequently say “Pay attention” or “Hurry up” or “you better write neatly”. You made me stop and think of what is really important in life… the precious moments we do have with our children and cherishing their each and every breath. Thank you for sharing Dominic’s story!

  10. Angie

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I am a birth & bereavement doula and the Director of Education & Training at stillbirthday ( I am also a homeschooling mom of two children and the mother of two sleeping babies.

    You write so eloquently of Dominic’s short, beautiful life, a life filled with love, goodwill and warmth. I’m 7+ years out from my last loss and I can say that Dominic’s life with ripple on like the water after a pebble’s dropped in. His presence in YOUR life, even just a few short days, will have eternal meaning…

    Thank You, Father, for Dominic.

  11. Nicole

    Thank you for this beautiful article. It made me cry like a baby, I can’t imagine what that loss would be like. But what a beautiful thing that little Dominic lived such a short life, but was able to make such a wonderful and profound impact in his family’s lives in that short time. It’s such a great lesson to all of us to cherish the precious time that we have with our loved ones while we are here. I had to laugh a little while reading this also, today the weather is beautiful here so we cut our lessons short and I watched my oldest daughter sit happily outside while she drew a picture of the stream flowing through our yard. Then we made zucchini bread together to give to some friends and family. <3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Left Menu Icon