“Puffy, take care of my babies.”
Sean “Diddy” Combs tells Essence that longtime love Kim Porter said those words three days before her sudden death from pneumonia last November, after sending her children to Combs while she recovered from what all believed was the flu. In 2006, the then-couple romantically posed for Essence’s cover; now, the newly single dad joins his six children—including Porter’s son Quincy, son Justin, daughter Chance, Porter and Combs’ firstborn son Christian, twins D’Lila Star and Jessie James, and even his own mom (better known as “Mama Combs”) for the magazine’s 49th anniversary May issue, which also happens to coincide with Mother’s Day.
While perhaps not an expected choice for a Mother’s Day-themed issue, Combs tells longtime friend and interviewer dream hampton that his new priorities in life are wholly due to Porter’s maternal influence.
Before this, I was a part-time father, you know? 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…
Porter’s death came as a shock to many in the black entertainment community, with tributes pouring forth online for weeks following her death. But while the creative world mourned the loss of a friend, beauty icon, mother, and industry influencer, Combs was faced with urgent parenting concerns, as he told Essence.
I jumped into mommy mode. 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. Christian was on a plane, and I had his phone disconnected so he wouldn’t read it in the air. Every time Kim and I talked, it was about the kids. It was what she cared about the most ... It was like some superhero sh-t. I ain’t even gonna lie. 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. There was screaming and crying when I heard the news, of course, but I had to ask myself, What would Kim do?
As Combs tells the magazine, when it comes to dealing with the death of his “soul mate,” Porter’s legacy, along with their children and the “village” that comprises their extended family, have been teaching him how to move forward with strength, focus and purpose in his parenting.
Kim was about love, and all of that care she gave to us every day, we just came together. It really made me proud that even though I didn’t get married, Kim and I, along with the other mothers of my children, raised a great family. ... 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. We’re doing really well because her passing has changed us and made us love each other more. ... And it’s because of Kim we’re doing this well, because of the way she loved us. We wouldn’t be able to love any other way. Her spirit wouldn’t let us.
The Glow Up tip: Essence’s 49th anniversary May issue hits newsstands Friday. For more on this story, visit ESSENCE.com.