To hear them tell it, they didn’t really want it to be this way.

John Edwards didn’t want to admit paternity of the little girl his mistress gave birth to because doing so would hurt his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth has Stage 4 breast cancer and hardly needs another cloud on her horizon.

Edwards’ sycophantic campaign aide, Andrew Young, says he agreed to pretend to be the father of that child so to avoid hurting Elizabeth.

And Rielle Hunter agreed to go into hiding during the campaign, then bide her time after the child was born — an arrangement designed, so we’re told, to avoid hurting Elizabeth.

Awww, isn’t that sweet? Weren’t they just so kind?

Did we mention that kindness had an expiration date? For it turns out every last one of them clearly assumed she’d be dead sooner rather than later.

One problem: The inconvenient Elizabeth keeps on keeping on. She’s raising her two younger children, she opened a charity-based furniture store, she’s in treatment for her metastatic bone cancer, and oh yeah, she tossed out hubby.

Andrew Young, the creepy campaign aide making the rounds with his tell-all book, told how Edwards prevailed upon him to go along with his cover-up scheme by playing the cancer card:

“John made it very clear she was going to die very shortly, and he didn’t want her to die like this,” Young told “Good Morning America.”  “We didn’t want her to go out this way.”

So….why release the book now? Why not wait?

Impatience, that’s why. They all had a script in their heads that called for her to exit, stage left. She hasn’t. Elizabeth and her medicine and her doctors are doing too good a job keeping her alive. It is spoiling everyone’s plans — John’s, Rielle’s, Andrew Young’s.

Young said he’d been promised a job with an anti-poverty foundation, created mostly to employ him and toss some health insurance his way. Edwards reneged on that, and now Young is striking back.

After all, what choice does he have? Who wants to employ a clueless yes-man? And not even a very good one at that: when told to keep Rielle away from Elizabeth at an Edwards campaign appearance, he couldn’t even do that right. The two women crossed paths in the john. Oops.

Young and his wife have taken responsibility for their part in the Edwards paternity cover-up, but not for the timing of their book. Or even the existence of it. (You know you lead a sad, no-account life when your “tell-all” book tells everything about someone else, not about you.)

When she went before the cameras nearly three years ago to announce the spread of her cancer, Elizabeth famously said, “I pretty much know what I’m going to die of now.”

What neither she nor anyone else can know is when. And that is proving to be so very inconvenient for those around her.

Kathleen O’Brien has been a journalist for three decades. Her long-running column for the Newark Star Ledger “looks at life from the kaleidoscopic perspective of wife, mother, taxpayer, commuter and worker bee.” But this year, O’Brien began a different sort of commute: a journey through breast cancer. WVFC is honored to share some of O’Brien’s Ledger blog about her experiences,  “We’ll Know More on Monday.”  We’re grateful for her for joining us here.

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