Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs graces the May cover of Essence and shared how he has become a better father following the death of his ex-girlfriend Kim Porter and what her final words to him were.

The music titan told the publication that he spoke to Porter three days before she died of lobar pneumonia on Nov. 15 in her in Toluca Lake, California home. She was 47 and shared three children with the mogul, son Christian, 21, and twin daughters Jessie James, 12, and D’Lila, 12. Combs also helped raise Porter’s son Quincy, 27, from a previous relationship. Porter also helped Combs raise his daughter, Chance, 13, and Justin, 25, from previous relationships.

“Three days before she passed, she wasn’t feeling well,” Combs explains. “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.”

Credit: Essence

The 49-year-old mogul said that Porter’s words echoed in his head as he came to terms with her unexpected passing. He wanted to make sure that their children did not learn of her death on social media or through the news. Their welfare remained strong in his mind just as he knew Porter would want it to be.

“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. 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.”

Combs said he was “screaming and crying” when he learned that his former fiancée died. Her final words came back to him in that moment.

“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,’” he said.

In the six months since her death, Combs said he has become a more actively involved father.

“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 and Combs began dating in the 90’s, broke up in 1999 and reconciled in 2003. They ended their romantic relationship in 2007 but continued to remain close. Combs said their family has grown closer since her death and that he’d always cherish her.

“We’re doing really because 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,” he said.

“Because of Kim we’re doing this well, because of the way she loved us.”

The May 2019 issue of ESSENCE will be available on newsstands and digital platforms Friday.