....but there is good news, folks!
My husband has been TDY on many, many occasions throughout our marriage. I wish now that I had kept track of it because I don't know if my guesstimate of 3-4 years is on target. As for non-TDY, more permanent deployment bye-byes, we've had two. One for a year and one for seven months. Both times, we had ample warning. Both times we knew approximately when he was leaving. Both times, the house became cluttered for weeks with gear that would accompany my husband to his destination. On both occasions, I had time to process what was happening, and prepare for it.
A couple of weeks ago,my husband came home late at night, quickly packed, and was gone the next morning. It was so odd.
There was no warning. No time frame to process. No time to prepare, physically or emotionally.
If you had asked me which situation I would prefer before this little episode, I would have told you it would be scenario one. Hands down. I'm a preparer - I like to know what's going to happen, and when. I like to have special time with my husband before he leaves. I like to shop and make sure he has things he needs, or at least things I feel better knowing he has.... But surprisingly, I found that I rather liked scenario two. There was no calendar watching, no anxiety, no stepping over gear for a month, which is a constant reminder of what's to come.
I've said in the past that I'm not sure how the wives of special, rapid-deployment units cope with the out-of-nowhere deployments because it seems even more disruptive than "normal' military life, which can be disruptive enough. But I'm surprised to find that I actually prefer the quick and dirty good-bye. It was a much better experience than the other two. Deployments/separations are always different so I'm not really addressing that here, just the good-bye process (or lack of it).
I'm glad I had the opportunity to compare the situations and I'm a little shocked to find that my preferences, which I thought were set in stone, can -- and do -- change. I have no idea when I'll see my husband again. Neither does he. But I'm okay with that.