How to mend a broken heart, connect to the natural world

Broadcaster and passionate gardener Indira Naidoo suffered heartbreak in 2020, when during Melbourne’s first lockdown, one of her two younger sisters committed suicide. This book, The Space Between the Stars, is her attempt to make sense of it all, and her account of how nature has helped her heal.

PICTURE: Indira Naidoo – precious books include The Edible Balcony and The Edible City

For as long as I can remember, there has always been just the three of us. Three sisters. Only a year between each. Inseparable. It’s been like that for almost 50 years … Until my youngest sister walked out into her suburban backyard and took her life.

Is it possible to ever heal a tear in your universe?

After her younger sister died suddenly, broadcaster Indira Naidoo’s world was shattered. Turning to her urban landscape for solace, Indira found herself drawn to a fig tree overlooking Sydney harbour. A connection began to build between the two – one with a fractured heart, the other a centurion offering quiet companionship while asking nothing in return.

As Indira grappled with her heartbreak, an unnoticed universe of infinite beauty revealed itself: pale vanilla clouds pirouetting across the sky, resilient weeds pushing through cracks in the footpath, the magical biodiversity of tiny puddles. With the help of a posse of urban guides, she began to explore how nature – whatever bits of nature are within reach – can heal us during life’s darker chapters, whether nursing a broken heart or an anxious mind.

She marveled at the ants and the microscopic plants had the strength to make their presence known through gaps in the walls. And she found solace in the garden, which became an act of hope and acceptance. “Gardens are where we sign a pact with nature,” she writes. “Nature will do her bit, and we must do ours. Yes, something may die but something will grow as well. We can’t ask for more than that,” she adds.

The Space Between the Stars is a heart-rending, at times funny, and uplifting tribute to love and our innate need to connect to the natural world, a celebration of the reassuring cycle of renewal that sustains and nourishes us all.

As long as you can see the stars, you can never truly be lost.

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