The ending floored me and I reread it and reread it looking for clues. All I could come up with was that they were both on the gangplank NOT on the boat. That, and he said Snuggs and Tripod walked back to the house together. When last seen Tripod was on his chain, shaking with fear in a tree limb. Snuggs was not mentioned. Maybe in Dave's mind he saw things as he wanted them to be, Molly and Alafair saying goodbye...they would not walk away and leave him lying there. The arms lifting him to the boat could actually be an ambulance, Molly and Alafair walking away to the car to go to the hospital as they don't allow a lot of people in ambulances...he did hear those sirens.
So what I think is this. Whether or not this series is continued, the boys are all right. If there is a next book, they will both have knowledge that the afterlife is a very real thing. It could also mean that Clete entered the death stage to bring Dave back like a true shaman. Clete could turn his life around (yeah right lol). Dave would have this major out of body experience and that would change him and perhaps offer more meaningful insights. If Jim decided to end this series with this ending as is, it works for me too. I would love to see a book co-authored by Jim and Alafair too! She is an amazing writer!
I want to wish Jim many more years on the planet. Many more. I hope to goodness that there are a whole bunch of other books with these guys I love so much.
In my own life, I have chosen to paint smaller canvasses as I know that inevitably, my work will be interrupted at some part of my life.
I think the ending was brilliant as it could go either way; either a new book down the road or a beautiful ending to a magnificent series. Just my opinions. I have given this a lot of thought since I finished this masterpiece!