Combs told Essence that what Porter said to him in the days leading up to her death helped shape his reaction.
"Three days before she passed, she wasn't feeling well," the 49-year-old explained. "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."
He said those words stuck with him after Porter was found dead at her home in Toluca Lake, California on Nov. 15.
"I jumped into mommy mode," Combs said. "I sent people in every direction to try to make sure the kids would not hear about it on social media or the news."
Combs and Porter shared three kids together: son Christian, 21, and 12-year-old twin daughters Jessie James and D'Lila. Combs also helped raise Porter's son Quincy, 27, from a previous relationship. Combs is also dad to son Justin, 25, and daughter Chance, 13, from previous relationships.
"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," Combs explains to the outlet.
He said his and Porter's strong relationship was always focused on the kids.
"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," he 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."
When he heard the news, "there was screaming and crying," he said, but then 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 said.
He said Porter's death taught him to be more involved with his family, as that's what she would have wanted.
"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."
"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," Combs tells the magazine, adding that although the family will never get over the grief, they were doing "really well."
"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."
"Because of Kim we're doing this well, because of the way she loved us," he added.0comments
As previously reported, Porter died of lobar pneumonia, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. She had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for days at the time of her death.
Combs and Porter, who began dating in the '90s, broke up in '99 and battled over child support for Christian. Combs also dated Jennifer Lopez for two years before he and Porter reconciled in 2003. They split for the final time in 2007 but remained close until the end of her life.