When I was a little girl, I didn’t have big plans for my wedding. I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted to wear or how many tiers the cake should have. In fact, I very much doubted I’d get married at all, since I wasn’t exactly the go-out-and-meet-new-people type. I was more the stay-inside-reading-all-by-myself type.
But when I was in middle school, I came across a poem (an old Irish folk song by Thomas Moore) that made me sure of one thing: the kind of flower I wanted in my wedding bouquet. The song is called “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” and it goes a little something like this:
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear.
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close
As the sunflower turns on her God when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose.
As a 6th grader, I hadn’t read a lot of love poems, but I’d read enough to know that they almost always fixate on the youth and beauty of the beloved. This one was different. It was about how those qualities will fade, but the lover only sees it as an opportunity to show how deep their love really goes. I realized this was what I wanted to find some day. And that’s what sunflowers came to mean for me: constancy, devotion through time
When the Mister and I decided to get married, I knew I’d found someone I was excited to get old with. I still wasn’t that worried about the dress and the cake, but now I knew why: the wedding day is just a single day. Yet, it’s the beginning of a marriage, which goes on for the whole rest of your life. Weddings aren’t about being young and beautiful. They’re about creating something that will still be there when youth and beauty are gone.
I still have the flowers in the picture, but they’re not fresh and young anymore. My mom dried them for me, and I keep them in a mason jar on our bookcase. They’re frail and withered, and they fade a little more each year.
But I still love them.