Sean “Diddy” Combs did everything he possibly could to make sure his kids didn’t find out about the death of their mother, Kim Porter, before he had a chance to tell them the news himself.
Nearly six months after her untimely death, the “I’ll Be Missing You” rapper, 49, is recalling what happened on the morning of Nov. 15 after news broke that Porter had been found dead at her home in Toluca Lake, California.
“I jumped into mommy mode,” Combs told Essence in their May 49th anniversary issue. “I sent people in every direction to try to make sure the kids would not hear about it on social media or the news. … I had to get to the girls’ school and find Quincy, who was on set in Atlanta.”
Combs and Porter shared three children together: twin daughters Jessie James and D’Lila Star, 12, plus son Christian, 21. He also helped raise Porter’s son Quincy, 27, from a previous relationship. (Additionally, Combs is a father to daughter Chance, 12, and son Justin, 25, from previous relationships of his own.)
The father of six added in his interview with Essence, “Christian was on a plane, and I had his phone disconnected so he wouldn’t read it in the air.”
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Diddy Reveals What Kim Porter Told Him Before She Died and How That Defined His Reaction to Her Death
“Three days before she passed, she wasn’t feeling well,” Combs went on. “She had the flu, and she sent the kids over to my house so they wouldn’t get sick. … One night I was checking on her, and she was like, ‘Puffy, take care of my babies.’ She actually said that to me before she died.”
Those words echoed in his mind after he learned the tragic news. Though “there was screaming and crying” when he heard about her death, he calmed when he thought of Porter‘s last few words.
“I was crying out to God — and to her — and almost immediately Kim’s voice kicked in, and I could hear her saying, ‘Make sure you take care of my babies,’ ” Combs told Essence.
“Every time Kim and I talked, it was about the kids. We’d check in as friends, of course, but we never had a conversation that didn’t include the kids. It was on some superhero s—. I ain’t even gonna lie,” Combs said. “On some level, I knew she was training me for this. I knew that I had to be ready to do whatever I was supposed to do if something like this ever happened.”
Since her death, Combs says he’s a lot more involved with his family because he knows that’s something Porter would’ve wanted.
“Before this, I was a part-time father, you know?” he said. “My family was always first, but there are countless times when I chose work over everything else. But every day I can hear her telling me to go and spend some time with the kids and make sure everybody’s all right, like she would do. I’m just a lot more present, and, most important, now my kids come before anything else in my life.”
Though their grief will never go away, Combs says the family is doing “really well” now. “We have a great family … the way we’re handling it together. From Sarah [Chapman, Chance’s mom] to Misa [Hylton-Brim, Justin’s mother] to all of Kim’s friends, the grandparents — it takes a village,” he explained.
“Her passing has changed us and made us love each other more. I’m happy to say that, because at first I really didn’t know how we’d be doing,” Combs added. “Because of Kim we’re doing this well, because of the way she loved us.”
Sean “Diddy” Combs Details His First Day as Single Dad After Death of Ex-Girlfriend Kim Porter: “I Got This”
Porter died of lobar pneumonia, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner announced in January. She had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for days at the time of her death at age 47.
She was buried in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia, on Nov. 24. During the elaborate public funeral held at Cascade Hills Church, Combs arranged for Porter’s casket to travel in a carriage pulled by horses, and acclaimed pastor T.D. Jakes officiated the service.
Insiders previously told PEOPLE at the time that Combs held a memorial for Porter on Nov. 18 at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California. Among the 100 guests present were Kim Kardashian West, Mary J. Blige, French Montana and Kourtney Kardashian.
The couple began dating in the ’90s and broke up in 1999, going on to battle in court over child support for Christian. Combs also dated Jennifer Lopez for two years before he and Porter reconciled in 2003, splitting for the final time in 2007.
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