Before you removed your training wheels, you practiced riding your bike for weeks. We spend years in school preparing to enter the workforce. Athletes train for months at a time before a big game. We spend so much time preparing for the biggest moments in our lives, but one thing you can never prepare for is loss. It's true that nothing in life is more unexpected than death; and although we know that the end of life is inevitable, no matter how much you practice, study, and train, you can never really prepare for the passing of a loved one.
This fact is a reality for the Combs family, who after losing Kim Porter last November, has spent the last six months trying to create a new normal. Diddy, Kim's former partner and father to three of her children, has been transparent about how this loss affected his family and the regrets he has about not popping the question before it was too late.
"Whenever I was around her, I felt as though God had his hand in it. I always felt like God had sent her. Nobody could love me the way she loved me, especially as, you know, as crazy as I acted. I mean, she loved me through some real s–t."
This month, for the first time, ESSENCE chose a man for their Mother's Day cover story and in the interview, Diddy got real about how Kim Porter's death made him a better father to their blended family. Just one month shy of her 40th birthday, Kim Porter was pronounced dead in her California home, and it was a day that turned through the Combs household "upside down". Diddy explained:
"Three days before she passed, she wasn't feeling well. She had the flu, and she sent the kids over to my house so they wouldn't get sick."
Little did they know at the time, what they thought was the flu turned out to be a complex case of pneumonia. Before her untimely death, Diddy recalled the last words he heard from Kim before she took her last breath:
"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."
It's important that we treat every conversation that we have with the ones we love like it is our last because unfortunately, it could very well be. Diddy explained that with those words in his mind, he was forced to transform from a grieving man who had just lost the love of his life, into Superdad. 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. We'd check in as friends, of course, but we never had a conversation that didn't include the kids. It was like some superhero sh-t."
Although her death was unexpected, Diddy explained that Kim had inadvertently been preparing him for this moment for years. Despite not having the time to process his own emotions, he knew that Kim would want him to think of the kids first.
Presley Ann/Getty Images for The LadyLike Foundation
"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? I was scared, and 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.'"
Diddy explained that the mother of his children's unfortunate death has left a permanent hole in his heart, but has also forced him to become a better man. While before, the entertainment mogul may have put his daddy duties on the back burner, now, he understands that family is the only priority.
"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."
Diddy explained that while Kim's death is hard for him to process even today, having his daughters, who exude her radiance in every way, is more than enough to be grateful for.
"Of course, I worry about the girls. One day I asked them how are they being so strong. They said that, in a weird way, their mother had taught them how to deal with death. About six years ago, Kim's mother [Sarah Porter] was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and we moved her to L.A. She passed away about a year and a half later, so the girls saw their mother deal with losing her mother. Now, ironically, they are teaching me how to deal with Kim's passing."
Diddy and his tribe prove that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, even when life hits you with something as grim and unexpected as death. My dad always says, "if there ain't no beauty, make some," and it's amazing to see how Kim's family can still see life for all of the beauty it has to offer. Rest in heaven, Kim!
Featured image by Presley Ann/Getty Images for The LadyLike Foundation
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Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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