To be so scarce for so long usually indicates foul play.
Kind of like walking innocuously along the pier, minding your own business when suddenly swoosh! A big white canvas bag is thrown over your head, engulfing your body as a rope wraps tightly around your arms and waist, squeezing out the very air you breathe as everything fades to black. And when the cobwebs finally clear, you awake later aboard a rusted freight steamer chugging across the China Sea amidst disheveled and disorderly crew sleepwalking about attending to the operation of the boat, who also find themselves shanghaied.
That might explain the circumstances of being away. Out-of-control as the body is invaded, a blitzkreig that renders your defenses harmless. Yet despite those loyal soldiers who stay behind, the effort at resistance is sporadic at best and quite guerilla in its lack of coordination. Small blows that represent moral victories but inflict little else in terms of measurable retaliation.
Sometimes these small skirmishes tend to implode, lasting well beyond the projected figures.