I am sure that it has happened to everyone. You had another person who you played with all the time on your server and had become pretty good in game friends. All of a sudden they are gone. They then re-appear out of the blue at some point. They may stay or they may leave. Regardless of why they were gone, it is always good to see them again. I have at least three examples that I will share with you.
1) Lon, the Altaholic: Lon is a middle aged man who really taught me a lot about the game. When I first started playing with him, I was a pretty freshly dinged level 60 just looking to tank everything. I first started running with him on his priest. We must have run Strat Dead and Scholomance a few times a night for months. Many of the other people I met in those runs are still in-game friends to this day. Most of them would just about qualify as in-game family. When 60 was the level cap and leveling was actually hard, Lon was the only person I knew with 5 level 60 toons. He was also the only person I would let pull for me on my tank....as a priest no less. Somehow, that arrangement worked.....not sure how, but it worked. He was also the one who got me into House IIMKI, which later became Reborn (and later disbanned).
Burning Crusade came out, and it was leveling time again. Lon chose to level strangely and level all 5 at the same time instead of blasting one all the way to 70 and then leveling the others. He felt a little bit left behind as his first toon hit 70 well after most of the rest of our group. Eventually, he brought all of his toons up and we ran a lot of instances like the good ole days. His main switched constantly, and he ended up leaving our guild over some drama. I still played with him on a daily basis and ran arenas with him.
Then one day he was gone. Besides being a chronic over explainer of fights, Lon was also known to drink more than his fair share. He had gone missing in-game. A few months later, he was back and shared his odd story. He had been in jail for hitting a poice officer with a shovel. He was apparently asleep when they raided his apartment (bad complex and turned out to be the wrong apartment). He thought it was someone breaking in and hit him with a shovel. It didnt help that he cussed out the judge (which may have been why he got time at all).
He was back again and running around with the old crew. A lot of us have funny Lon memories. Like for some reason, during a specific run, he must have mentioned at least 30 times that he barely had to drink on his priest. Lon also told notoriously bad jokes, usually as soon as he logged into vent.
Eventually, Lon was gone again, and has been so for probably close to a year. The other day I saw a faint flicker that my friend had come back. I noticed his toon log off (wish I would have noticed he was on to start with). I have not seen him back on in the last few days, but honestly hope that he is playing again. He was a sort of a WoW father figure to me, and always a blast to play with.
2) Jason, the Flaky One: I started playing with Jason around the same time that I started playing with Lon. He was a happy go-lucky Aussie with a god given abillity to pull aggro on his Boomkin. He was also a notorious AFKer. There were many times where he would AFK in middle of a run and 20 minutes later, here we were still waiting. One such incident involved Shadowlabs and Lon. Jason went AFK and it had been about 30 minutes. Lon decided it would be fun to play a prank. He took off his gear and ran up to Blackheart the Enciter....it aggroed the entire room onto him, then ultimately onto Jason. About two hours later, Jason comes onto vent, and the first thing we hear is 'I hate you guys". Of course we burst into laughter.
Jason is one of those completly quirky people, who you expect certain things from. He doesnt loot all of his mobs.....ever. He has probably left hundreds of gold sitting on corpses over time. He is also guaranteed to be completly broke most of the time. He could not help buying BoE epics and other shinies that would wipe out his bankroll. Eventually he went into the millitary and was gone for about 6 months. He came back, but has only been on sporadically. He has not logged on in about two months, and while I know he will be back, who knows when.
Phuros, the Old Guild Leader: Phuros was the leader of the first guild I ever joined in WoW. It was called the Red Dragon clan. He was also one of the first level 60 characters I ever knew. He was an awesome Hunter, and a very helpful player. He used to give me healing potions when I could barely afford to repair. He also gave us the gold we needed to get our tabards the day the guild was formed. That day, we stood on the banks of Loch Modan and shot fireworks into the air.
I quit playing at level 48 for probably about 6 months. When I came back, Phuros was still there. I spoke to him a bit and he brought me some more potions out in Un'Gorro crater. Not long after that, he disappeared. He left because he was a raider, and with the incoming BC expansion, he saw that most of his hard earned epics were going to be replaced with greens withing the first level. This did not sit well with him.
BC comes, I hit level cap, and have raided up into T5 contents. One day I check armory, and Phuros actually shows up! I add him back to my friends list and start talking with him again. He levels to 70 in probably a week. I get him into our SNK raids and the guild. He is around for a few months, then suddenly disappears again. I think it may have had something to do with him and his wife getting a new house and possibly starting a family. I would like to play with him again, and wish him the best IRL.
Old friends coming back are always a pleasant surprise. In a way, it can help remove the jaded gamer and bring us back to that fun time even if it does not last all that long. Helping a friend through brand new content can be extremly fun. Getting a friend back is even better.