Over the next few nights, the four of us and Barney's family members took turns staying with him in the hospital. Robin took time off work to stay with him as often as she could. If Marshall, Lily, or I could have, we would have done the same, but we weren't really in the position to be able to do so.
Your Aunt Robin had fallen into a pretty deep depression since then and I had become pretty determined to figure out what happened and who had hurt him. The day after we first saw him in the hospital, Marshall and I went to the police station to find out what they knew, while Lily stayed with Robin. When we walked up to one of the officers' desks, I asked the man to speak with the officer in charge of Barney's case. A few minutes later, two men in plain clothes walked over to us and introduced themselves as the detectives we were looking for.
"Gentlemen, we understand that you're here for the details of the John Doe in the hospital for the gunshot wounds?" one of them asked.
"His name is Barney Stinson," Marshall answered firmly. "He's a good friend of ours and we'd like to know what really happened and who hurt him."
The other detective replied, "You're right. We're sorry."
I spoke up as I asked, "Do you know what happened?"
"A woman, who just moved here to get away from her ex-husband, was being harassed by him after he followed her here," the man responded. "Witnesses in the bar said the man was an angry drunk and according to her, your friend stepped in after the man smacked her across the face for leaving him. He punched him once in the face, knocking him to the ground, and when the ex attempted to hit him back, others stood behind him. It was enough to humiliate the ex and he left the bar, but when your friend left on his own, he snuck up on him and shot him twice outside, first in the chest, then in the head. The guy must have robbed him before running off."
"Your friend's lucky to be alive," his partner added. "I'm afraid we have yet to find the man responsible, but I assure you we're doing whatever we can to find him."
I turned to Marshall and then back to the detectives as I said, "Anyone who knows Barney would see him as a self-absorbed fool, but when it counts he has a way of surprising people somehow; especially us. Please give us a call when you find the man. Thanks."
The men shook our hands and then Marshall and I left to go back to the hospital. We explained to Lily and Robin what we learned and Robin didn't take the news very well. She stormed out of the hospital and headed to the gun range where she always let her anger out. If she wasn't at the hospital or at home crying and stuffing her mouth full of food, we knew that the gun range was most likely where she was.
Less than a week later, I received a call from the detectives, who told me that they had finally caught the man, who hurt Barney. Robin was already at my apartment when the call came and she quickly called up Lily, who was still at school for some program her kids were preparing for.
We met up later that night at the hospital with a case of beer, which we had to sneak in, in order to celebrate the small victory, but as we arrived and headed toward Barney's room, we ran into Jerry, who was pacing in the hallway outside his room. When he saw us walking over, he came over to us with a smile on his face.
I spoke up first as I asked, "Hey Jerry! Is everything all right?"
"Everything's fine," he answered. "He started to wake up. I think he's going to be ok."
"Your son is awake, Mr. Whitaker, but I need to speak with each of you before I allow you in to see him," the doctor replied as he came walking out of Barney's room. "His vitals are good and his breathing has improved, but I'm afraid that I have some bad news. He has no memory of…."
I interrupted the doctor to ask, "What do you mean he has no memory? Do you mean…?"
The doctor nodded despondently and continued, "I'm afraid that he doesn't remember what happened to him, that he doesn't know who he is, and that he won't remember who any of you are either. There's a chance that he'll begin to remember things on his own as each of you try to help him remember his life, or maybe once his head wound is fully healed things will change, but I need you to know and be prepared for the possibility that his memory may never come back. The best thing you can do for him is be patient. Don't try to force him to remember. That could end up doing him more harm than good. I'm sorry. You're welcome to go in and see him now."
"I think it may be best if the four of you went in to see him first," Jerry said. "I think I'll go out and speak with his mother to explain what's happened to her, then maybe we can come back to see him together. I'm afraid I won't be any good in the memories department, since the few memories I have with him are pretty much all bad."
"Jerry, we're so sorry," Lily responded as she went up to him to give him a hug.
Jerry continued, "We were finally beginning to move past all that. I don't think I can handle seeing the hurt and disappointment on his face again so soon. Will you explain things to him and let me know when he's ready to see me?"
Marshall nodded and answered, "Of course. Are you going to be all right?"
"I will in time," Jerry replied as he turned to leave. "Do whatever you can for him. I know how much you all mean to each other. He's spoken very highly of you. I'm glad he has friends like you."
"Thank you," Lily responded.
After he was gone, Marshall spoke up as he said, "Wow, I know how hard it was for to lose my dad, but I can't imagine the pain of losing a son, even though we've only lost his memories and not him."
Robin finally spoke up sadly as she answered, "It's almost the same thing. We've lost everything that makes him, Barney. What are we going to do?"
"We do exactly as the doctor said," I replied. "We help him to remember by being there for him, by being patient with him, and by surrounding him with the things that may help to jog his memory. We'll get Barney back. We've never given up on him before and I'm certainly not about to start now."