With Bernie Mac's memorial service planned for Saturday in Chicago, his wife, Rhonda McCullough, opened up to People magazine about the loss of her husband, who died on August 9 of complications from pneumonia.
She had hoped that when Mac, 50, was admitted to the hospital last month, he would receive treatment and be back at home. But, she remembered, "he didn't look good to me and I knew this could be it.
"I said, 'Hey, Bernard. How are you?' and I kissed his forehead," she continued, "He shrugged his shoulders, like 'I'm tired,' and I said, 'I know you're tired.' Later on that night, it took a turn for the worse."
Not long after, Mac's doctor took both Rhonda and their daughter, Je'Niece, 30, aside and broke it to them that Mac had passed. "[The doctor] came in and I said, 'He's gone, isn't he?' and she said, 'Yes,' " she remembered.
She recalled meeting Mac when she was a 16-year-old junior and he was a 17-year-old senior at Chicago Vocational High School.
"He said, 'You never seen a black man as pretty as me.' And I said, 'No, I sure haven't.' And he said, 'Girl, you know I'm so beautiful,' " she recalled.
Later, on Valentine's Day, he asked her to come to his shop class so he could give her something. When she got there, "I said, 'What do you have for me?' And he kissed me. That was our first kiss." The couple wed in 1977, when both were 19, and Je'Niece was born the following year.
Mac's friends, colleagues and other family members have offered fond memories of the man, and as the family prepares for Mac's memorial service, which will be held at noon Saturday at the 10,000-seat House of Hope in Chicago, Rhonda said the pain "comes in waves." When she listened to Hamilton Bohannon's "Thoughts and Wishes," which the couple considered to be their song, she said she felt that he was still with her.
"I was singing it and a chill just came over me, and I knew it was him," she said. "I get through because I know he's in a better place now."