Matthew Carter held a young man’s dreams that ended nine days ago, by way of a gunshot fired at close range in a Lafayette neighborhood robbery.

He wanted to be a doctor of radiology. He wanted to be the best athlete possible. He wanted to hold his family close to him. He wanted to brighten others’ lives. He wanted to know more. He wanted one more snack, one more smile, one more laugh. When you’re young, you believe the fountain of good fortune will never run dry. Sometimes, it does.

That’s a lament heard around Louisiana, in small towns and in metropolitan areas, wherever young people die tragically and needlessly. It happens too often.

Small wonder, then, that family and classmates and teachers and friends in Lafayette pressed close to one another in prayer for the teenager with the perpetual smile, the Comeaux High senior who served as ambassador of kindness to those who passed through his realm of light. They remembered him for his cheer, his warmth toward strangers, the joy he lent others. He knew when to laugh; he knew when to console.

His teachers remembered: “He was a well-rounded young man,” one said. “Loves everybody. Smart, smart as a whip. Corrects me a lot. Keeps me on my toes. That’s OK. We need that sometimes.”

We all need that always. But as family and friends gather Friday — a community drawn together — at The Bayou Church to bid Matthew goodbye, the world is short one sterling soul, an absence that will ache for a long time.

His spirit, though, remains. In announcing his death, family members said his organs were donated to others so that they may live and prosper, offering hope to those he left behind. May his spirit remain with them.

His spirit may well remain, too, among teachers and classmates, family and friends — among all those who cherished his company and treasured his love. As friends gathered last week outside Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, holding vigil while Matthew held on to his life’s last embers, a friend implored others to pray.

“Just pray,” his friend said. “Y’all put all y’all’s heart, everything, into praying.”

There’s no cause to stop praying now. Believers say God places angels around us; if so, we must show gratitude for the goodness they reflect. Still a boy, Matthew had mastered the art of loving others. Some of us never master that.

Pray. Remember. Be kind.

That would make Matthew Carter — gone from this life — gloriously immortal.