Comedian Bernie Mac passed away due to pneumonia complications in 2008 at the age of 50, and his widow Rhonda McCullough is sharing some of the details of his final moments publicly for Oprah Winfrey’s show, Where Are They Now? Rhonda and Bernie had been together since they were 16 years old, and met in 1974.
“August the 8th, he had woke up,” Rhonda recalled. “They said, ‘We’re going to put a feeding tube in him,’ and just everything went wrong.” His heart stopped, and he had to be resuscitated.
“When they finally let me go into the room to see him, I was like, ‘Oh, my God,” Rhonda says of that fateful day. “He was just shaking, and his eyes was just, like, wide open and he wasn’t really looking at anybody.”
She discussed how she pleaded for him to pull through, and the memory sent her bursting into tears.
“I said, ‘Please don’t, don’t die…I said, ‘I’m here. I’m waiting for you. I’ll take care of you. Just don’t, don’t die. Don’t die.'”
A few hours later, her husband was gone.
“It was around 2 o’clock that morning. I remember seeing the door open, and the doctor was standing in the doorway,” she said as she fought tears. “I looked at her and I said, ‘He’s gone, isn’t he?’ She [nodded]. My whole life was him, since I was 16…I didn’t know what I was gonna do. It’s like, what is my reasoning for being here now? What is my purpose? How am I going to make it now?”
Rhonda helps Bernie’s spirit live on through the Bernie Mac Foundation, which was created a year before he passed to promote awareness of the disease sarcoidosis, from which Bernie suffered from.
“The foundation means to me everything that Bernard was and that he wanted.” Oprah: Where Are They Now?” airs Saturday at 10 p.m on OWN.